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Celebrating Korean Lunar New Year with a timeless classic Seollal, or Lunar New Year, is just around the corner, and this week CJ Newsroom is teaming up with U.S.-based Korean cuisine extraordinaire The Subversive Table to help you mark the biggest fixture on the Korean calendar in the most quintessential way possible – a steaming bowl of tteok mandu guk. If you’re interested in Korean food and culture, preparing a bowl of this delicious yet simple rice cake soup with dumplings is a great way to engage with Korean traditions and warm up on a chilly January weekend all at once. The Subversive Table – aka Lis – hosts a fascinating blog that distills her Korean-American ‘Third Culture Kid’ background into recipes that explore both her Korean heritage and her experience growing up in U.S. suburbia. Below, Lis gives CJ Newsroom her take on the classic dish, some top tips (including how to whip up a vegan version), plus some interesting context on its role in Seollal. What part does tteok guk play in Seollal? Seollal is an opportunity for Koreans everywhere to give thanks to ancestors and reflect on the year to come, and tteok guk has long played a role in the day’s symbolism. For Korean Americans like Lis, it is often eaten on January 1 as well. Traditionally prepared with beef broth, yellow egg strips, black roasted seaweed, green onions and rice cakes, it’s a distinct and colorful dish, and The Subversive Table’s addition of bibigo mandu dumplings – another Korean classic – makes it even heartier. The rice cakes – called tteok or dduk – are made from long cylinders of luminous white rice dough. Sliced into tubes resembling ancient Korean coins, they help give the soup a chewy texture and a unique appearance, and can be bought pre-prepared in Korean food stores. The soup even plays a role in Korean age. Historically, all Koreans are thought of as turning a year older not on their individual birthdays but on Seollal itself. Chewing down on tteok guk, therefore, is about more than enjoying a classic meal – it represents growing older and wiser, and you haven’t truly turned a year older in Korea until you’ve eaten a portion during Seollal. The Subversive Table’s Tteok Mandu Guk (Korean Rice Cake Soup with bibigo Mandu) Hi! I’m Lis from The Subversive Table and this is my take on a tasty and filling tteok guk with added bibigo mandu for extra bite, perfect for celebrating Korean Lunar New Year. Many thanks to CJ for inviting me, and feel free to check out my top tips, FAQ answers and additional Korean recipe links below the main instructions for the especially adventurous chef! Tteok Mandu Guk Serves: 4 Cook Time: 30 minutes Ingredients: Beef: ¾ lb or 225 grams beef chuck, beef flank steak, top round, beef brisket or bulgogi beef 1 Tbsp soy sauce 1 Tbsp sesame oil Soup: 7 cups stock (pre-made beef bone broth, beef stock, anchovy stock, chicken stock, vegetable stock or clam broth) 1-2 Tbsp CJ Dasida Beef Bouillon powder (depending on salt content of stock that’s added; add to taste) 1-2 Tbsp soy sauce (to taste) 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 3 cups sliced tteok 2 cups frozen bibigo mandu (dumplings) 1 Tbsp sesame oil (drizzle right before serving) Garnish: 3 eggs, preferably organic 2 packages roasted seasoned seaweed snack (aka gim) 3 green onions Ingredients breakdown and background: Mandu – Korean dumplings are called mandu. To make tteok mandu guk easier, I used   bibigo Mandu which are conveniently frozen and pre-cooked. They make Korean tteok mandu guk especially delicious and quick to make! Beef – Use chuck roast, top sirloin, flank steak, beef brisket, or bulgogi beef. Look for well-marbled beef that isn’t too lean. Beef Bouillon – Adds a big boost of beefy flavor. I store CJ Foods Beef Dasida in the fridge and add a spoonful to any beef-based soup. My secret ingredient! Stock – Traditionally, milky-white Korean beef bone soup is used. However, this can take a long time to cook. Instead, you can buy ready-made beef bone stock from the Korean grocery store, which can be found in the prepared foods section in foil pouches or plastic soup containers. If you don’t have access to this option, beef broth, anchovy broth, clam stock and vegetable stock also work. In a pinch, water also works! Garlic – Fresh minced garlic provides a big boost of flavor. Soy Sauce – Koreans use a special kind of soup soy sauce for more depth of flavor, but this is not vital and regular soy sauce also works. Don’t use low sodium soy sauce, however, as this can taste very flat. Sesame Oil – A drizzle at the end adds so much nutty flavor and aroma! Rice Cakes (Tteok/Dduk) – In Korean cuisine, there are many different kinds and shapes of rice cake.  For tteok guk, use pre-sliced, oval-shaped tteok/dduk. Soft and chewy, they come in three  forms: frozen, refrigerated and fresh (room temperature). Choose the one that’s most convenient for you. Garnish: Eggs – Adds flavor, protein and color. Make a thin, crepe-like egg pancake and slice into thin strips. Seaweed or Gim – Roasted, seasoned seaweed add lots of flavor and umami depth! Deliciously earthy and nutty. Add right before serving to preserve the texture. Can be crumbled or cut into thin strips. Green Onion – Adds freshness and color. Instructions: Prep beef – Slice beef into 1/8-inch thin strips, against the grain, so it’s not too chewy. Season with soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside to marinate for 10 minutes. Prep garnish – While the beef marinates, prep the garnishes. Snip seaweed into thin strips with scissors or crumble with hands. Finely mince the green onions. To make the egg garnish, cook whisked eggs over medium heat in a non-stick pan, flip and cook gently on both sides so the egg is firm. Cool then slice the egg into thin strips. Put each garnish in a separate bowl. Cook beef – Heat a stock pot to medium heat and add 1 Tbsp of oil. Add beef and stir frequently, until browned and mostly cooked. Add soup stock – Add soup stock of choice, beef bouillon powder (Dasida) and soy sauce. Bring to a boil and skim off the scum that rises to the surface. Cook for an additional 10 minutes until the flavors meld together. Add rice cakes and mandu – Add the garlic, rice cakes and frozen mandu. Cook gently until the rice cakes are soft and chewy (about 5 minutes). Be sure not to overcook! Serve – Right before serving, add a drizzle of sesame oil for extra richness. Garnish with egg strips, seaweed (crushed or cut into strips) and green onions. Enjoy! PRO Tips: Buy pre-made beef stock. My favorite cooking tip for making fast, easy, high-quality tteok guk at home. Look for pre-packaged, milky white, beef bone stock (sometimes called seollangtang) at the Korean grocery store. It is often available in foil envelopes/pouches or plastic soup containers. Prep rice cakes. Defrost frozen rice cakes by soaking in cold water for 15 minutes. If using refrigerated rice cakes, rinse in cold water to remove starch or residual moisture.  Room-temperature rice cakes can be directly added into the soup, as is. Thinly slice beef against the grain. To prevent overly chewy beef, it’s important to slice as thinly as possible against the grain. Look for the long strands of beef that point in the same direction. Slice in a perpendicular direction so the long beef strands are cut into thin strips. Don’t overcook! Tteok mandu guk is easy to overcook. The rice cakes, especially, can turn mushy, start falling apart and disintegrate into the broth when cooked for too long. Instead, cook until the rice cakes float, are soft and chewy, but still retain their shape (about 3-4 minutes).  Variations: Make it Vegetarian or Vegan. Swap out the beef stock and make a vegan broth instead.  For the broth, combine kombu and shitake mushrooms and cook for 20 minutes. Slice shitake mushrooms thinly and marinate as you would the beef. Use egg substitute in place of the egg garnish. Add egg directly to the soup. The egg can also be added directly to the soup. The resulting texture will be thicker – like egg drop soup – with fluffy, silky egg ribbons swirled throughout. Tteok Guk Ramen. For a different texture, add a package of instant noodles and cook until soft. This combination is delicious. FAQs Can I make this ahead of time? The broth and garnish can both be made ahead of time, up to a day before. Keep covered in the fridge. When ready to serve, heat until boiling then add rice cakes and dumplings. How do I store leftovers? Store cooled leftovers in the fridge, tightly sealed. When reheating, the soup will be thick. Gently heat over medium heat, stirring so the rice cakes don’t stick to the bottom. You may need to add more water/stock to achieve the right soup consistency.
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